My heart hammered in my chest harder than it ever had. Putting on a burst of speed, I rounded each corner tight, racing down twelve flights of stairs, and didn’t trip until the very bottom. The heel of my shoe caught in the metal grating and threw me forward, my head cracking against the metal door. I opened it with shaking hands, hardly feeling the bump on my head, and slammed the metal slab behind me, then leaned against it trying to catch my breath and calm the shakes.
When my heart slowed enough to hear, I put my ear against the door and listened. It was silent for a long time, then a soft hissing started, a lot like that of sand in the desert when the wind blows, piling it wherever it can. It grew louder until it chipped at the metal door. A soft squeal sounded and the door flared hot under my ear. I pulled away, quickly backpedaling down the pipe laden tunnel behind me. A few clouds of what looked like green pollen surged from beneath the door and paused, almost as if they sensed me, then rolled my direction like dandelion puffs on the wind.
I threw off my shoes and ran full force down the tunnel, listening for the sounds of people ahead of me, the broken concrete biting at my feet, but I didn’t have time to stop. Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong and my heart told me I had to hide from the pollen or I would end up just like the tree man and sagebrush family.
Finally I heard cries and panting ahead of me. I put on a burst of speed, too scared to even glance over my shoulder to see if the cloud was still there. I tucked my chin and pumped my arms as the concrete gave way to moist dirt and moldy smells.
I almost passed them. If it hadn’t been for Auntie Chieko’s voice I probably wouldn’t have caught the door in the dim passage. I slowed and spun, racing back toward her voice. The cloud seemed to be gone, but there was no point in taking chances. I dashed through the door, threw it closed behind me, then pulled off my slip, knelt, and stuffed it into the gap.
“What are you doing?” a panicked voice came from the back.
“It came under the door. I have to block it. Didn’t you see what that stuff can do?” My slip wasn’t stretching far enough. It only covered half of the gap and I had nothing else to stuff under it without stripping. I was seriously considering it when someone knelt beside me.
“No, but I can imagine. I mean, think Hiroshima, dude,” the skinhead said. He pulled off his overshirt and shoved it beneath the door.
“It’s not like
Principal Robertson pushed his way through the crowd of ten people. “That’s ridiculous. There’s no such thing.”
“Do you want to go tell that to the tree that just sprouted in the middle of
Somebody snickered in the back. They all stared at me like I’d grown another head. I couldn’t blame them, not really. I knew how crazy it sounded, but I’d seen what I’d seen and I couldn’t say it was a lie. It wasn’t a lie. It was truth.
Newtimber had just been hit with a Magic Bomb. A bomb dropped by a dragon.